March 22, 2009

WoW Character Creation

Creating your character

There are two things you need to decide when creating your character. You will need to choose a race/class, but first you will need to pick a server to start on. Assuming you don’t have a friend on a server that you want to play with, the decision to be made is player versus player (PvP) or non-PvP. (This is called normal by the game, and PvE or player vs environment/enemy by players.) There is also a third type of server called RP (role-playing) where people are supposed to be more intent on playing as their characters, rather than merely playing their characters. An RP server is usually just a special type of PvE server, except for one or two “RP-PvP” servers.
There is PvP content on the PvE servers. Don’t think you’ll be completely missing out. However on the PvE servers, if you’re an orc and you run across a human, you can’t fight him unless he agrees to fight you. There is a “PvP mode” you enter and at that point anyone on the other side can attack you (and thus enter PvP mode themself.) In other words, PvP is consentual on the non-PvP servers.

On the PvP servers, you can attack the other faction at any time. If you want to, you can be a level 50 player and go kill level 15’s. The absolute newbie zones are protected, but everywhere else is “contested territory” where it’s open season. However, killing someone close to your level will earn you honor, while killing a trivial low-level player will not. There is never a direct penalty for fighting someone, and you must be prepared to have that happen to you at the most inopportune times.

PvP adds a certain element of realism - it puts the war in warcraft. However, if you are not a fan of being at the whim of other players, you might be better off playing PvE. PvE servers are, in fact, the majority of the servers.

The other obvious dilemma in starting the game is choosing a combination of race and class. Not all combinations are available. I recommend choosing a class first, and then a race to match, because some classes may suit your playstyle more than others, and overall it is the much more significant decision.

A brief run-down of classes:

races - all
tanking - highest, damage - decent, utility - low, healing - basic

Warriors are the guys up front in plate armor. They can take the blows, and are expected to try to keep anyone else from taking them if they can. They certainly can deal damage though, and have three battle stances to reflect their balance of offense and defense. Rather than having mana, warriors generate rage to activate their special abilities as the battle goes on, and have quite a few combat skills to use, not all of them available in every stance.

Warriors wear mail initially, later plate, and can use nearly all weapon types. They start with a one-handed sword and shield.

races - human, dwarf
tanking - decent, damage - low, utility - high, healing - decent

Paladins are the Alliance-only class. Paladins have virtually no genuine combat skills. Instead, they have a few other abilities to juggle. First, they have auras, which are permanent effects around the paladin (armor bonus, damage reflection, etc.) Second, they have “blessings” that are short term buffs on their teammates which fairly potent effects, only one of which works at a time. Third, they have “seals” that are self-only effects that last for 30 seconds. Seals are both strong in nature, and can also be released as a “judgement” that then becomes a status effect on their target. (A seal that gives the paladin life per hit becomes a judgement than gives anyone hitting that target life per hit.) They can also heal and rez, although they probably aren’t the best choice for a main healer.

Paladins can use mail armor, plate later on, and can equip many non-ranged weapons. They start with a two-handed mace.

races - Tauren, Troll, Orc
tanking - decent, damage - decent, utility - high, healing - decent

The Horde’s answer to the paladin, the shaman is a true hybrid that can function as melee damage dealer, magic damage dealer, tank, or main healer. While a shaman can potentially do any one or two of these things, it really is up to the shaman to choose a style that fits them, based on their talent choices. Shamans also have the ability to lay totems, which create local effects. The totems each have an element (fire, air, earth, water) and only one of each type can be used at a time. The totems are attackable, and most only have a few hit points, but are immune to AE effects. Examples of totems are a healing spring totem that gives nearby party members health over time, an earthbind totem that roots nearby enemies, and a fire nova totem that detonates after a few seconds in a fiery explosion.

Shamans can wear leather armor, learn mail later, and start with a staff.

Races - all but Tauren
tanking - moderate, damage - highest?, utility - moderate, healing - basic

Rogues are perhaps the masters of combat damage. However, they can not take damage anywhere near as well as a warrior can, despite having an exceptionally high dodge rating. Rogues are also able to stealth and sneak up behind opponents, with special skills to initiate combat from hiding, including the ability to sap an opponent, stunning him for a lengthy period of time. Rogues do not use mana, but rather energy that drains as they use it, but fills very quickly on its own. Unlike mana pools, a rogue’s energy pool is always out of 100. Some skills the rogue performs adds a “combo point” to that target, and other skills are refered to as finishing moves, and have a stronger effect based on how many combo points are on that target. The points become spent when the rogue does this, and cannot be transferred to another target.

Rogues wear leather and can use most one-handed weapons and ranged weapons. They start with a dagger.

Races - Tauren, Night Elf
tanking - decent, damage - low, utility - high, healing - high

Take those traits above lightly: druids are able to shapeshift into two animal forms, a bear and a cat, that make the druid behave like a warrior or a rogue. The bear can tank, the cat can sneak and deal melee damage, or the druid can remain in caster form and be a potent user of nature magic. As a caster, druids have arguably the best buff spell in the game, and various healing skills at their disposal. Compared to the priest, the druid’s spells focus more on being over time. Druids can also nuke to some degree, although not as potently as the true caster classes.

Druids wear leather and can use daggers, one-handed maces, and staves. They start with a staff.
races - Night Elf, Dwarf, Troll, Orc, Tauren
tanking - moderate, damage - high, utility - moderate, healing - low

Hunters are the masters of ranged combat, dealing damage more effectively with a bow or shotgun than anyone else. While their emphasis is on their ranged combat, they are also capable at close range, and are skilled survivalists that use traps and the beasts of the wild to their advantage. In fact, hunters can tame beast-type creatures to be their pets, and after building a degree of loyalty with that pet, teach them skills that make them effective at dealing damage or tanking for the hunter while he shoots his target. Hunters have a line of buff spells called aspects, of which they can only use one at a time, and which mostly only affect the hunter. Hunters are especially known for their mark ability that highlights a creature and puts a big floating arrow above it to indicate a target for others, as well as increasing ranged damage against it.

Hunters begin with leather armor and can learn to wear mail, and can use almost all weapon types. They usually start with a one-handed axe and either a gun or a bow (with ammo pouch or quiver.)

races - Night Elf, Human, Dwarf, Troll, Undead
tanking - low, damage - moderate, utility - decent, healing - highest

Priests are the stereotypical holy healers of the game. They are NOT clerics, though. These guys do not walk around with a shield and plate armor. Instead, they have two sets of magical spells - one divine and the other of darker “shadow” magic. Generally, the divine spells are more healing-oriented and the shadow powers deal damage and manipulate powers of the mind. Priests are known for their spell “Power Word: Shield”, which is a short-term buff that absorbs a certain amount of damage before it fades, which allows the priest a sort of last-second heal or helps the priest channel spells while under attack.

Priests can only wear cloth armor, and can use daggers, wands, one-handed maces and staves. They start with a mace.

races - Human, Gnome, Undead, Orc
tanking - low, damage - decent, utility - decent, healing - low

Warlocks are not the masters of dealing damage quickly, but they can generate a lot of it over time with the use of “damage over time” spells. They are the users of dark magics, and draw their powers largely for demonic arts. To that end, warlocks are able to summon one of five different demon pets to fight for them. Warlocks have the ability to summon players from anywhere, so long as two group members assist with the ritual. They can also create soulstones that auto-resurrect a player with just a few HP and mana shortly after they die.

Warlocks can only use cloth armor, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.

races - Human, Gnome, Undead, Orc, Troll

Mages are the blasters of the game, able to deal heavy amounts of magical damage in a very short period of time. Aside from being masters of frost, fire, and arcane arts, they can summon their own food and drink, as well as create teleportation portals to major cities. Mages are also widely-known for their use of polymorph, a spell that turns a target into a sheep for a period of time as long as it remains undisturbed, effectively removing it from combat.

Mages wear cloth, and wield staves, daggers, wands, or one-handed swords. They start with a dagger.

All listed non-starting weapon proficiencies must be trained.

Race is a bit less of a decision. There are some bonuses to race, which I won’t outline, as they are only intended to have minor effect and add flavor to the game. Use the sidebar to read up on races if you like. While some races’ attributes are more helpful to some classes than others, like the Orc’s command that adds 5% to pet damage being better for hunters and warlocks than non-pet classes, or the gnome’s Expansive Mind that adds bonus intellect to mages and warriors alike, the important thing is to play the race that you most see yourself playing (if it is available for your class.) Also keep in mind which races are Horde or Alliance, if that should matter to you. Picking the right class is much more important, as is being happy with your character even if some geeky person considers it to be “sub-optimal” just because you don’t have War Stomp or whatever.

You do have some minor options to adjust your appearance with things like skin shade, hair style, facial hair, etc. This isn’t going to impact your gameplay, and both genders are equal in all ways, so just pick whatever looks prettiest to you or whatever.

Enter your name - something NAME-LIKE and moderately original, or you run the risk of having it changed - and press create. You’re ready to start.

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